Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) frequently co-occurs with intellectual disability in children, and may further compromise learning. Methylphenidate is a first-line treatment for ADHD, however no previous meta-analysis has evaluated its overall efficacy for ADHD in children with comorbid intellectual disability (ID) or borderline intellectual functioning.The PubMed/MEDLINE, Cochrane CENTRAL and ScienceDirect databases were systematically searched from inception through 2018/7/15 for clinical studies that investigated the effects of methylphenidate in children with ADHD and ID. A random-effects model meta-analysis was used for data synthesis. Eight studies (average Jadad score = 2.5) enrolling 242 participants receiving methylphenidate and 181 participants receiving placebo were included. The meta-analysis showed that methylphenidate led to a significant improvement in ADHD symptoms relative to placebo (Hedges' g = 0.878, p < 0.001). Meta-regression analysis pointed to an association between the dose of methylphenidate and overall improvement in ADHD severity (slope = 1.334, p < 0.001). Finally, there was no significant difference in drop-out rate [odds ratio (OR) = 1.679, p = 0.260] or rate of treatment discontinuation due to adverse events (OR = 4.815, p = 0.053) between subjects receiving methylphenidate and those taking placebos. Our study suggests that methylphenidate retains its efficacy in children with ADHD and borderline intellectual functioning or ID.
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